54-40 Brewing to open new location in Washougal

Site at Evergreen Marketplace will have full-service restaurant, taproom

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54-40 Brewing Company owner Bolt Minister (left) reads a raffle ticket number during a Washougal Business Association event in October 2023. The company’s new location at the Evergreen Marketplace in Washougal will allow its original location at the Port of Camas-Washougal to host more events, according to Minister. (Doug Flanagan/Post-Record)

54-40 Brewing Company will open a new location — with a full-service restaurant and taproom — at the Evergreen Marketplace in Washougal later this year.

“We have been struggling for years now to figure out a permanent kitchen,” said 54-40 Brewing owner Bolt Minister. “We had leased suites (next to our Port of Camas-Washougal location) to put in a permanent kitchen, but the costs just got so darn expensive over the last couple of years, and I realized that it wasn’t going to happen. Once we finally realized that, I started looking elsewhere, and I found the Pizza Hut location next door to the old Blockbuster (video rental store). We’re taking both of those spaces.”

The Evergreen Market location will feature a full kitchen and pizza delivery, according to Minister.

“Once we actually started thinking about it, (we realized that) we could throw a whole lot of money down here to build out suite Nos. 3 and 4, or we can have an existing kitchen because Pizza Hut just basically picked up and left,” he said. “It is going to be a big, big pivot for our regulars. But it’s also going to be great for the folks that don’t even know we’re down here at the Port. The exposure is so much better up there in the Safeway parking lot, so it’s going to be really cool.”

54-40 Brewing’s current Washougal location at the Port of Camas-Washougal’s industrial park will continue to brew beer on site and offer a full complement of beers and ciders on tap, as well as a limited food menu, after the Evergreen Market location opens in June or July.

“The tap room down here at the Port was always supposed to be sort of a community hub and was never supposed to be a restaurant in the first place,” he said. “We’ll be able to do community events and a lot of other things, like buyouts for wedding rehearsals or East County Little League fundraisers or other stuff that just couldn’t be a possibility because we didn’t have enough space during our regular service hours. Now we can do all that. It’s sort of more in the spirit of what the taproom was meant to be in the first place.”

Minister decided to sublease his unused suites to Portland-based Swift Cider Company, which will use them mainly for beverage production and canning.

“Once the writing was on the wall that we weren’t going to be able to do the build-out that I really wanted to do in suite Nos. 3 and 4, I really wanted to help out another friendly person in the industry, and it just so happened that Swift Cider was looking for another place to move to,” Minister said.

“I courted them for about six months, and then I talked to Derek (Jaeger) at the Port, and he was all for us either subleasing or giving them their own space and getting them in here because we’re kind of trying to build here at the Port is a really cool beverage manufacturing scene, and Swift is only going to draw a different segment of that.”

54-40 Brewing will offer six Swift beverages on tap and provide space for Swift cans in its retail coolers.

“They have a very similar aesthetic in that the ciders that they make are very dry, and I appreciate very dry beer,” Minister said. “The aesthetic of what they do fits really well with the aesthetic that we do. We’ve always focused on them in our tap room. For the last four or five years, we’ve always had their ciders on tap as the only cider that we’ve had on. We’re really friendly with them, and we knew that they might be looking for a new space. Once everything started to start to line up, they were the very first people that I reached out to.”

In return, Swift will can 54-40 beers.

“It’s sort of hand-in-glove because we were kind of pulling out of the can game just because of the cost, and they actually have their own can lines, so now we’ll be able to cross-utilize their canned line for our product as well,” Minister said. “We’ll be able to get back in the can game and get cans back on the shelves.”